Board Member Spotlight:
Mary Helen Hackney, MD, MS, FACP
Can you tell me a little about your position on the board and what your position is responsible for?
I am now in the last part of my second term on the CancerLINC board. It was known as LINC when I first joined the board. My first real connection to CancerLINC came through Mary Ann Hager and Alison Held, both former board members. VCU Massey Cancer Center was part of a pilot project called the medical-legal partnership. Collaborating with LINC, the goal was to provide better access to legal services for oncology patients in need. I was the physician champion as the program went from serving breast cancer patients to all oncology patients. CancerLINC had been in existence for about 14 years as this program gained traction.
Why did you become involved in the organization, and what has your involvement looked like over time?
I have been in practice for 25 years almost as long as CancerLINC has existed. Taking care of patients is my primary joy and responsibility. I had met Phyllis Katz through a colleague but didn’t have a comprehensive understanding of the organization until later discussions with Mary Ann Hager. VCU Massey Cancer Center has always served patients from all walks of life and all circumstances. I have long been part of the research groups examining health disparities and access to care. I have also been one of the leaders for collaborative cancer care and improvement of the patient experience. Cancer LINC has a key role in supporting patients.
How would you characterize the board’s role in the nonprofit organization?
This was my first nonprofit board experience. I looked to Billy Baxter and Beth O’Donnell as board mentors. I would be remiss though to not mention others that I have met and admired. I am afraid that I would forget some names if I continued the list. I have made some lifelong friends.
How would you describe the goals of the organization, and how does the organization achieve these goals?
I think that CancerLINC is a wonderful organization for someone wanting to contribute but not knowing how or where to start. It is a small, involved board. Members are there because they want to make a difference not just to have a line about civic duty on the resume. Experienced members help nurture new ones. Physicians and attorneys do sometimes think differently but this is a group that really works together to make a difference.
How do you see deepening board member engagement?
I think that one of my key roles is to provide the medical voice. I am first and foremost a physician and patient advocate. My longevity in the community has also led to bridges between practices and health centers.
If I am not advocating for CancerLINC, you will find me...
Loving my dachshunds, Boo and Zilly.
Traveling with my sister.
Working in my rose garden.
At the South of the James Farmers Market or sampling any of our abundant restaurants and food ventures around Richmond.
Or even better trying new recipes and hosting friends at my home. I have been cooking since I was 10 and even have a few recipes published.
Music from my piano to the Modlin Center to other venues.